UNITED is the way forward for gun violence prevention (GVP). Last December, I concluded six years of service on the Protect Minnesota Board of Directors. As a final act, I purchased a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, brought wine glasses, and toasted PM, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to live out my faith and commitment to nonviolence, and be part of an energetic and focused board community. As we were all leaving, a board member came up and said, “I’m an atheist. How do you see my beliefs and your beliefs working together for GVP?” My response was. “We are all created in the Image of God. This is what unites us and opens us to finding common ground in Protect Minnesota and GVP.”

Two weeks later I sat with the Protect Minnesota -Interfaith Alliance, meeting at the National Center for Jewish Women, as we strategized moving GVP forward. Sitting around the table were four Jews, one Muslim, one secular humanist and three Lutherans. We put the finishing touches on a January “Faith is Stronger than Fear” event which will feature an interfaith worship and teaching political actions. We fine-tuned inclusive and appropriate language, eliminating “Lord” and including “God”. There will be Native American smudging as well as the Augsburg University Choir. I also gave a report on the progress of a GVP curriculum called “Love Your Neighbor” that will be offered to Christian churches in Minnesota. Other faith expressions have also been encouraged to develop their own curriculum.

UNITED-IMAGE OF GOD was the magnet for moving GVP forward. The warmth, the humor, the commitment during the evening was inspiring! A Jewish woman, a marvelous leader, said she has been working on GVP for 18 years. The Interfaith Alliance reminds her that she is not alone. Our common ground is GVP. We are UNITED in purpose because we are all created in the IMAGE OF GOD.

Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes